Walt Whitman, John Dewey, and Primordial Artistic Communication

In the end, works of art are the only media of complete and unhindered communication between man and man that can occur in a world full of gulfs and walls that limit community of experience. Occasionally, thoughtful people familiar with both Walt Whitman and philosophical pragmatism will remark on their affinity.1 Some have even argued, correctly, that Whitman influenced American pragmatism, especially the writings of William James and to a lesser extent John Dewey.2 For instance, Raphael C. Allison (2002) insightfully remarks: “Just as for James, for Dewey it is the communicability of Whitman’s art that makes it significant.”3 He then cites some of the best passages in Dewey’s entire corpus to warrant his ..
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